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Hockey Betting Explained

As we venture into an NHL season without fans in many arenas, teams have had to get creative in their partnerships to make up for lost live gate revenue. One noticeable difference across many teams’ broadcasts is the introduction of live betting odds. As the legalization of sports betting roars across the country, business is boomin’.

In the two-and-a-half years since the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that effectively banned commercial sports betting, 20 states have passed legislature to allow either online or in-person bets to be placed on sports games. That number is only going to grow, and eventually, California will be on that list.

With sports betting being a relatively new industry to many viewers, let’s give a brief overview of the basics of sports gambling. There are three key figures to understand—the spread, over/under, and moneyline.

Parlay Betting Explained

With the half goal included, the bet will either win or lose. Under or Over 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 Goals explained. So if you are looking at a bet which is Over 2.5 Goals, what is needed is for a minimum of three goals to be scored in the fixture. It doesn’t matter if there are more, but if there’s less then the bet will lose. For baseball and hockey, the money lines appear before it is displayed along with the total of the game, more so happens in hockey. Hockey Stanley Cup and Football Super Bowl Point Spreads Understanding NFL football betting odds & weekly point spread is important. May 31, 2019 Hockey Betting Resources The best part about betting on hockey is that the market is softer than it is for other sports such as the NFL, college football or the NBA. Not as many people bet on the NHL, so the market is not as efficient as it is for the more popular sports. Jan 15, 2019 Hockey bettors will find lower betting limits on NHL games than they will in the NFL or NBA, something which is generally seen as an acknowledgment by the sportsbooks that they are less comfortable accepting bets on the NHL than they are on the other two sports. NHL Over / Under Bets Explained The goal total betting line is a game line set down with the total number of goals for a game between both teams.

The Breakdown

Before we breakdown the bet types,let’s start with the basics. A minus sign denotes that a team is the favorite, while a plus sign indicates the underdog. So, if Team A is -250 and Team B is +250, Team A is who the oddsmakers believe is the favorite. The numbers themselves also are significant, and it all refers back to $100. Odds of -250 mean you would have to place a $250 bet to win $100. On the flip side, +250 would pay you $250 on a $100 bet.

The spread is a bet on a team either winning or losing by a designated number of goals. A +1.5 spread for Team B means that if they only lose by one goal, you would win if you bet on Team B to cover the spread. Team A’s -1.5 goal spread means a bet on them only pays if they win by two or more.

As the name implies, the over/under is a bet on the total goals scored by both teams in a game. Often, they will appear as half-goal figures with either a capital O or U next to it. One note here is that if the O/U and goal total are the same, all bets are a push and are refunded.

Lastly, the money line is the simplest to understand—here you’re only betting on who will win. This will only appear with set odds, which we’ve explained above.

How They Appear

For you visual learners, let’s break down how these odds might appear in say DraftKings or FanDuel, two of the larger sports betting platforms in the United States. (We’ve left some referral links for you to enjoy some free bets when you sign up)

Let’s use a real example—tomorrow’s Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues game. Below is how odds will look when you go to place a bet, with odds courtesy of DraftKings.

LA Kings+1.5
STL Blues-1.5

What it Means

By reading the spread, we can see that oddsmakers believe the most likely outcome is the Kings either winning or losing by only one goal. Before, we said the minus denotes the favorite, but the over/under has minus for both sides of the coin. That’s because they believe it’s too close to call either way, otherwise known as a pick-em’. Based on the money line, the Blues are fairly strong favorites and you would have to bet $195 to win $100.

Before we move on, it’s important to note that many platforms offer alternate spreads, over/unders, as well as fun prop bets, including fun bets on an individual’s performance. From whether a player will score the first goal of the game, to the over/under on an individual player’s shots in a game, there’s enough variety to keep everyone entertained.

Tonge’s Ticket

With betting partnerships becoming more integrated into NHL team’s revenue streams, we figured why not get in on the fun ourselves? Throughout the season, we’ll bring you some of our favorite bets on Kings games, as well as others around the league. Let’s call this new segment Tonge’s Ticket, as these bets will come from my ticket each Kings gameday.

Since we already broke down some odds on tomorrow’s Kings/Blues game, let’s start there.

Under 5.5 goals. Darryl Sutter may be a distant memory at this point, but the Kings and Blues aren’t the teams to show that it’s not a 3-2 league anymore. We like this to be a low-scoring tilt in the first matchup between these two teams.

Anze Kopitar to score 1+ points. At -155, those aren’t bad odds for a guy who ended his last game tied for the league lead in points. Kopi stays hot and adds another to his statline.

Kyle Clifford to score first goal.We’re not saying bet the house here, especially with reports Clifford might not even play as Sammy Blais returns from suspension, but +2500 odds for The Colonel to score on his old team might make the risk worth the reward.

Be sure to tune in as we bring you more picks throughout the year, and make sure to follow @AndyTonge1 and my new Twitter account, @HockeysBestBets. There, you will find my picks for the rest of the league. Good luck and happy betting!

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Updated: January 8, 2021

Betting on hockey

Hockey betting makes one of the most exciting games on the planet that much more exhilarating. The physical fast-paced play on the NHL ice presents a massive menu of hockey odds and action every night, giving you plenty of opportunities to make some bucks off the pucks.

How hockey betting works

Like most team sports, hockey betting allows fans to pick which side they think will win the game. On top of that, bettors can wager on the total number of goals scored as well as numerous alternative odds markets for each game.

How to read hockey odds

The most common hockey betting lines are the moneyline, puck line, and Over/Under goal total.


Betting the moneyline is the most straightforward way to wager on hockey, with oddsmakers simply asking bettors to pick which side they think will win the game. Because not all matchups are equal, each team will be assigned a moneyline which reflects the implied probability of winning the game.

Moneylines are most often displayed in American odds (hundreds). The moneyline favorite will be indicated by a negative (-) value before its moneyline while the underdog will have a positive value attached to its moneyline odds.

For example, the favorite to win the hockey game has a moneyline of -175 which means for every $1 you wish to win you need to risk $1.75 (bet $175 to win $100). The underdog has a moneyline of +155 which means for every $1 risked you could win $1.55 (bet $100 to win $155).

Find out how much money you could win betting NHL moneylines using our easy odds converter and moneyline calculator.

Puck Line

The puck line is hockey’s version of the point spread, in which a certain number of goals are designated as a handicap between the two teams. Due to the low-scoring and routinely close contest in the NHL, the most common puck line is 1.5 goals, with the puck line favorite set at -1.5 and the puck line underdog at +1.5. However, you will find larger puck lines in more one-sided contests.

If a team is designated as the puck line favorite (-1.5) it must win the game by two or more goals to cover the puck line. If a team is a puck line underdog (+1.5) it must win the game outright or lose by less than two goals to cover and win the puck line bet. Attached to each team’s puck line is a set of odds known as the vig or juice, which is the cost of placing that bet.

For example, a team is a puck line favorite of -1.5 (+110) which means for every $1 risked on that puck line you could win $1.10 (bet $100 to win $110). The puck line underdog is +1.5 (-130) which means for every $1 to want to win you need to risk $1.30 (bet $130 to win $100).


Over/Under betting in hockey is just like wagering on totals for any other sport. Oddsmakers set an expected total number of goals to be scored by both sides and bettors can wager on whether the final score will go Over or Under that total.

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Most NHL Over/Under totals will be set between 5 and 6.5 goals depending on the offenses and defenses involved in the game. Due to the lower-scoring nature of hockey, goal totals don’t move as much as basketball or football Over/Under numbers but rather see the juice or vig attached to both the Over and Under adjust.

For example, a game has an Over/Under of 5.5 goals set with the Over favored slightly by oddsmakers. That opinion is reflected in the juice, with the Over 5.5 priced at -125 (bet $125 to win $100) and the Under 5.5 set at +105 (bet $100 to win $105).

More popular hockey bets

The growth of NHL betting in North America and around the world has created a bigger demand for hockey odds and sportsbooks have met that with these alternative popular hockey bets.

Hockey betting explained odds

1 – Parlays

NHL parlays allow you to wager a single amount across multiple hockey bets for a larger possible payout. However, all bets included in the parlay must win for the entire parlay to pay out. Even if four of the five bets in the parlay are correct, that single incorrect bet grades the parlay as a loss.

2 – Prop bets

NHL prop bets allow you to wager on certain aspects of a game, away from the final score. Hockey prop bets can include odds on an individual team or player performance as well as events and happenings throughout a game.

3 – Futures

NHL futures odds are long-running markets that allow you to bet on overall results like odds to win the Stanley Cup, winner of the Eastern or Western Conference, teams’ final points totals, and individual player honors like league-leading scorer or MVP (Hart Trophy).

4 – Derivatives

NHL derivative odds allow hockey bettors to wager on certain segments of a game, such as first-period goal totals and moneylines as well as which team will lead after two periods.

Hockey betting tips and strategies

NHL odds are on the board every night during the hockey season. With so many options, make sure you’re using the best NHL betting strategies with these valuable tips


You’ll want to start by measuring each team’s strengths and weaknesses and how those compare to their opponents.

For example, if a team plays physically but often finds itself in the penalty box, a matchup against one of the best power-play attacks could be damning. Or, a team with a thin blue line could get into trouble versus an opponent with deep forward rotations.

Starting goalies are also key when measuring NHL matchups. Goaltenders will get hot and cold during the schedule, so make sure to weigh in on recent results more heavily than their season-long stats.


Injuries play a massive role when betting on NHL odds. The grueling nature of the game as well as the wear and tear of a demanding schedule will see players in and out for short and long periods of time.

Hockey bettors will want to take a close examination of how an injured player will change the dynamic of a team and how much of their success depends on that missing piece.

For example, an injured offensive-minded defenseman could be key to the special teams and take away a club’s edge with the man advantage. Or, losing a second-line winger could force a coach to juggle his forward corps and break up any chemistry with his regular scoring lines.

Line movement

Like betting on any sport, getting the best of the odds is as important as which team you’re betting on. NHL odds are fluid and will react to results, injuries and action, with betting lines moving from their opening to the second before the puck drops.

Tracking NHL line movement and knowing when to get the best number for your opinion is one of the most important hockey betting strategies, especially if you’re wagering on NHL action every night.


Handicapping referees is an undervalued method of discovering an edge in the NHL odds. Referees and linesmen all have their unique tendencies, especially when it comes to calling penalties.

Some refs will allow for more physical play, which gives an advantage to bigger, stronger teams that rely on the forecheck and dump-and-chase styles of play. Other officials are quicker on the whistle and promote a more wide-open brand of hockey, which suits quicker and more finesse teams and could produce higher-scoring finishes.

Recognizing the referees’ tendencies and monitoring the nightly officiating assignments is a sharp way to get the edge over the NHL oddsmakers.


NHL betting trends can help point you in the direction of value. Long-standing trends can sometimes be misleading, as teams, players and coaches change season to season. But season-focused trends and recent trending results – especially those with a narrative or clear explanation – can be very profitable.

Hockey has a busier schedule, with teams in action three or four times a week, which means those trends will carry over from game to game more often, compared to trends for football which sees a week between contests.

Free picks

Hockey betting rules

If you’re just learning how to bet on hockey or need some help with your NHL bets, you can also find informed, expert free picks at Covers Experts.

There are a number of smart and savvy hockey betting experts that share their insights and strategies for each day’s biggest NHL betting matchups.

Situational spot bets

Home and away splits as well as recent schedule demands will impact results too. Be mindful of how differently a team can play depending on the venue or if they’re currently in a daunting stretch of schedule, such as long road trips or extended breaks in the action.

Hockey teams can sometimes fall into “lookahead” and “letdown” spots during the season, either suffering a letdown in the game immediately following a notable victory or looking past a weaker opponent and focusing more on an upcoming marquee matchup.

Today’s NHL odds

Here are the latest NHL odds for today’s biggest matchups:

Ready to bet on hockey?

If you think you’re ready to start betting on hockey, you can try your luck at one of Covers’ free-to-play contests for the chance to win cash and prizes or you can start placing real-money NHL bets at trusted sportsbooks.

Free NHL betting contest

Want to try before you buy? Our King of Covers NHL contest lets you make free hockey bets without depositing your money at a sportsbook. Bet the moneyline and Over/Unders throughout the 2021 NHL season for the chance to win cash and prizes.

Play King of Covers NHL contest.

Best hockey sportsbooks for beginners

Covers’ team of industry experts have thoroughly researched the many online sportsbooks out there so that you don’t have to. Using the Covers BetSmart System, we’ve identified the best online sportsbooks in your area so that you can be sure you’re playing at a trusted and respected betting site.

Football Spread Betting Explained

NHL betting forum

Want to learn more about NHL betting and meet a large, knowledgeable community? Check out Covers’ NHL betting forum to get picks, ask questions, and learn from experienced sports bettors.

Instant replay: Hockey betting

  • Moneylines, puck line, and Over/Under totals are the most common hockey bets.
  • You can bet on which team will win the Stanley Cup with NHL futures odds.
  • Starting goalies and hot/cold streaks are vital to handicapping the nightly NHL odds.
  • Knowing referee assignments and tendencies can uncover hidden betting value.
  • Scout the schedule for home/away splits and situational spot bet angles.

Hockey betting FAQs

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Betting Line Explained

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Hockey Betting Odds Explained

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